Published Jun 05, 2012From Argentina to Germany, this grouping of award-winning shorts tackles subjects such as loss, the end of the world and the nature of freedom with a variety of filmmaking styles and narrative structures. Tonally, the program vacillates between playful and serious, using constructs that are both artfully stylized and straightforward, showing that the medium is being exploited for all it is worth in the modern, global lexicon.
This first short in the program, Luminaris, is a stop-motion, Argentinean, Marxist plea of sorts, with a light bulb manufacturer being fired for stealing workplace materials. Just short of his construction material goal, his undefined dream seems lost until something unexpected occurs. Brief and impressively constructed, this nod to escaping the mundane opens this selection well, making the Jackson Pollock tribute, Dripped, wherein an art thief devours (literally: it's animation) famous works of art to experience various styles and histories, only to develop his own unique style (get it?), more palatable.
Armadingen, the German entry, is the most touching of the group, showing the lengths a husband will go to in order to protect his wife from learning that the end of the world is nigh. Even though the ending betrays the touching yet subtle build-up, this is easily the most memorable offering of the group, unlike the political issue short Grandmothers, wherein testimonials mix with artsy stylization to mourn the loss of stolen children.
Following this is the gorgeously shot French-Canadian short Trotteur, which features a young, oppressed worker racing against a smoke-spewing train in an ode to defeating the trappings of the industrial age. If it's too obvious thematically, the crisp, black & white cinematography and dreamlike aesthetic more than compensate. This helps make the dull and depressing visual poem, The Fisherman, pass by without much thought.
Rounding out the program is the goofy transmogrification parable, The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb, wherein a night watchman turns into a monster, much like an old school sci-fi movie. It relies on the grotesquery of nostalgia, making it appealing mainly to younger single men.